When we decided to take a family vacation to San Francisco, I knew we had to head to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. And I am pleased to share that the aquarium lived up to all of my hopes and more. We had such a great visit I couldn’t wait to share my best family tips Monterey Bay Aquarium.
I received one complimentary ticket for my coverage, but the whole family enjoyed the fun.
At the Monterey Bay Aquarium not only can guests enjoy the marine life inside the aquarium, they can also enjoy local marine animals outside. While we were there, we spotted otters, many varieties of birds and even dolphin playing right off the deck.
I cannot image an aquarium in a more beautiful location. We also happened to be there on the most beautiful of days, but I think this place would be beautiful regardless of the weather. Just look at this view!
You could spend all day at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and we nearly did. We arrived about 30 minutes after it opened and left less than 30 minutes before it closed. We didn’t really plan it that way, but our girls had so much fun exploring and we had no other plans for the day – so we just kept going. And there were still things we missed because we never sat down for a show.
Family Tips Monterey Bay Aquarium
Go With The Flow
As I mentioned, there is a lot to see and do at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It is overwhelming at first, but just pick a place to start and let your kids lead the way. We started upstairs in the Open Ocean area and worked our way around the second floor before heading downstairs, which worked well for us since most of the morning crowd seemed to start on the first floor.
Turn Off Your Flash
That beautiful photo you are taking with your flash will not come out. It just won’t. The light will bounce off the glass and ruin the photo. Since the aquarium tanks are lit from within, turn off your flash to take the photo. The silhouettes created by the tanks are beautiful. Plus, it’s nicer to the animals.
Finding Dory (And Nemo)
Of course, finding Dory was an important task for our Disney loving family on our visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I am please to report that we found Dory, and Nemo and even Hank. Although my girls were a bit disappointed not to find any reference to the movie in the aquarium, they had a great time making up there own. They chatted at length about Dory’s friends all over the aquarium.
Park Your Stroller
If you have the opportunity to park your stroller in one of the designated areas and leave it, I recommend doing so. Traveling with an infant, we needed our stroller with us at all times and it was a bit cumbersome. Doable, yes, but if I could have parked it and explored without it, I would have.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium is filled with learning opportunities for children. One of my favorite opportunities was in the hall upstairs by the Open Sea exhibit. Here they had a series of art created by trash in an effort to teach people about the dangers of trash in our oceans. Each work of art was accompanied by a lesson about how the trash impacted marine life, and it was a great moment to talk to my girls about recycling, littering and conservation.
Where To Eat
The Monterey Bay Aquarium allows guests to come and go throughout the day with a hand stamp. So you can leave the aquarium to grab lunch if you want. We decided to eat in the aquarium restaurant, and I pleased to share that it was quite good. Not only was the food tasty, but we managed to get a window seat and see dolphin swimming just outside out window during lunch.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium offers a number of hands on experiences including touch pools and a play area. There is so much to keep kids entertained – including the opportunity to ask questions. Our five-year-old had a wonderful time asking one of the volunteers question after question about the animals in the touch pool, and the volunteer was happy to answer. It was truly one of my favorite moments.
We also loved the indoor waterfall created by the crashing waves in the Rocky Shore area.
Where To Stay
After much debate, we ended up staying at the Embassy Suites in Seaside, CA. The hotel was less than 10 minutes from the aquarium and afforded our family of five the space we needed with a one-bedroom suite, plus free breakfast and afternoon snacks. It was perfect for our stay.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium is a must or a family vacation to this area. After the aquarium, don’t miss the 17-mile drive. We set out on the drive the next day and had lunch in Carmel By The Sea before heading back to San Francisco.
Before you go, and again when you get back home. Be sure to check out the live web cam to see what the animals are up to. Hope these tips Monterey Bay Aquarium help.